Grading the Bulls: Tony Snell

Grading the Bulls: Tony Snell

Last grading: Pau Gasol


Over the course of the season, Snell made some minor strides towards the better. He fixed a glaring weakness in terms of efficiency, going from a TS% of .489 last year (considerably below league average) to .550 this year, which is actually above league average. The reason for that? A hot-as-hell February in which he dropped 13.6 points a night on a ridiculous Kyle Korver-esque TS% of .747 over nine games. Included in that was a 24-for-46 showing from downtown, obviously an anomaly, which just makes his situation so terribly difficult to really pin down. Do we look at the big picture and go "Well, without February, he really wasn't all that good" - or, the more positive spin "Look at that February! If he can just dig into that bag more often..."?

The correct answer lies somewhere in the middle. Snell shouldn't be necessarily penalized for his February since, after all, he did put up those numbers, anomaly or not. But it shouldn't be the foundation of which anyone build their new expectations in regards to Snell.

At the end of the day, Snell had some success which was drastically necessary for him, and this should be the basis of which he should be judged. He got more confidence in his long-ball, there were moments when he looked visibly comfortable with the rock, which was in way the situation the season prior, and he was better off as a result of that. Just slightly, but that's okay.


Much like with his offense, Snell's defense was either hot or cold. With the Bulls generally defending worse this season, Snell was stuck in the very middle of it, spending time with everyone from the starters and the primary back-up rotation, to playing clean-up duty. He played generally worse as a starter, proving himself too think to take on stronger wings, but was adequate off the bench when matched up against players of lesser skill and strength.

Against the three-pointer, Snell was struggling making it out the shooter if he tried to recover from double-teams, or simply picking up a switch. This resulted in Snell allowing players to shoot 3.9% better than their average from behind the arc. Surprisingly, Snell helped lower the shooting percentages of players closer to the rim, as he affected their shots by 3.5% from within six feet. But that was primarily his one defensive asset, as he, in totality, allowed almost 3% better shooting on the perimeter, and outside 15 feet. This is such a crucial area to be effective in, and Snell just wasn't.

"Brought it factor"

Snell brought it in February, and then stood by somewhat outside of that. The passiveness of Snell has frequently been a problem, and while he had some moments this season in which he took some steps in that department, he's still far off as being considered someone who's bringing it.

Highlight of the season



Had he not gone cold in April, suggesting even more so than usual that he's a Dee Brown type player (the 90's version, not the Illinois version) who is either fantastically cold or fantastically hot, I'd given him a solid C+ and a tip of the hat. But that didn't happen, so he needs to settle for a grade that he should be able to beat next year.

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    I like Snell, and have stood by him as many wanted his head on a platter to be traded or released from the Bulls. However, I'm not sure if Snell has what it takes to have a long career in the NBA.
    It is understandable that a mid rd rookie play little mins, and for him to ride the bench after a hot season by Jimmy Butler. What I don't get is his lack of intensity to play pro basketball. It's as if he settles for less, and that's not the kind of player who makes it in the league.
    Snell's 3rd yr will be make or break for him. If his shot falls, and he takes it upon himself to be more of an impactful player then he should last another yr with the Bulls or as trade bait to another team, but if he shows the same signs of timidness on the court, and fails to come through in the 4th qtr then he'll either be trade bait, or in the D League. Snell was drafted for his shooting and if he doesn't show consistency and improve his scoring avg he'll be basically useless for the team.

  • In reply to Michael Cunningham:

    I also stand by Snell. As with Niko, getting regular minutes helped. If I remember correctly, Tony lost minutes shortly after his hot February. Also, Butler was a great defensive player but not good to terrible offensive player once he finally got some minutes. I just heard someone talking about TVR (?) from the Blackhawks not wanting to shoot his first stint basically because he was lower on the totem pole. All of the sudden he is taking off- maybe similarly to Butler. Like you say, hopefully Snell finds his rhythm in Hoiberg's offense.

  • Off topic: Has anyone heard of or seen Nemanja Bjelica? I saw that the Bulls may be trying to offer their draft pick to the Wolves for him. I looked him up on Youtube and was very impressed. I think the video was called Nemanja Bjelica - NBA Ready by Europeanbasketball tv. In it Fran Fraschilla calls him a young Tony Kukoc. Watching the highlights (which, I know, only show the good and not the bad) I was thinking the same thing. 6'10" and can handle like a PG. That could look real nice in Hoiberg's offence!

  • In reply to PaBullfan:

    Watched the vids. Impressive on defense. I don't think his off the dribble game would have as much success in the NBA.

  • In reply to PaBullfan:

    Mistake. It seems like any tall Euro with a handle is the "next Toni Kukoc." There are way more Jan Veselys out there than Kukocs.

    I am all-in on Delon Wright after considering the alternatives. This guy had a PER of almost 30 in college. Plus I think he won the Cousy award as best college PG. Is very long and a terrific defender who can guard two or three positions. Improving shooter.

    Which means, of course, the Bulls won't draft him. I was also "all-in" on Aldridge and either Plumlee or Dieng and the Bulls FO overthought the pick and selected the wrong guy.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    Surprise, Surprise, Suprise, we actually agree. Of the players that have a chance of still being on the board at 22, Wright seems to be the best fit for the Bulls. We need a backup PG/combo guard with good size to back up Rose(instead of the usual assortment of midget retreads) as well as someone who can give Butler a blow at SG.

    It likely comes down to Wright vs Jerian Grant if they are still on the board. I'd go with Wright, as he is a bit taller/longer and looks to be more athletic with more upside.

    Not sure what would happen if Sam Decker fell to 22 since SF is our biggest need. Personally, I'm kind of leary about all the Wisconsin guys. Despite our needs, I still believe in taking the BPA.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Dekker is an interesting option, although I don't think he will be there at 22. I think someone asked whether he was a legit 6'9, and everything that I've heard suggests that he is. He's also really, really athletic, has a pretty versatile offensive game and can play above the rim. Definitely not a system type guy, very different player than mcdoug.

  • I like Snell but I always feel like I have a slightly different read on his game than other Bulls fans. From what I've seen he's always been a solid contributor in the stretches when he gets regular minutes. His 3 ball is gorgeous when it's dripping and hilarious when it's not. But he's not the first NBA guy to have that problem. Dan Majerle used to have that problem but defenses always had to respect him from deep anyway. The growth in his game this year came on offense when his shot wasn't dropping. His February might have been an anomaly but that pass to Gasol in the YouTube clip isn't. He's a surprisingly smart and unselfish attacker. He's got real playmaking ability and makes the right pass way more often than he gets credit for. And when his shot is off he's learned to start attacking the basket. He doesn't miss multiple 3s on consecutive possessions much because his response to a missed shot is to attack on the next trip which usually results in a high% shot for himself or a good pass to an open teammate for one.

    A big negative on his game is his motor though. And I don't mean his will. I mean his conditioning. He gets noticeably fatigued very easily. If anything keeps him out of the starting lineup it'll be that. But that could be okay because he's still well suited to back up both wing positions. His defense wasn't as good as advertised either. If he gets regular playing time I'd like to see what happens to his assist and steal numbers. Playmaking and disruptive defense would make him a consistent rotation player.

  • In reply to Redwhitenblack:

    Good post. For whatever reason Snell doesn't bring it every night. Just way too passive. Apparently was that way in New Mexico as well. Why the Bulls scouting department discounted that aspect of his game is a mystery.

    Btw, the guy the Bulls passed over, Dieng, has made excellent strides in his overall game. Plus he brings it every night.

  • I have always envisioned Tony Snell as a Danny Green type of player. Give you about 10-12 points a game with not exceptional but solid defense. He still can if he can get more consistent minutes. When he gets consistent minutes, he is not forcing his 3 as much and he is much more comfortable/confident with his 3. Remember Danny Green wasn't very good at cleveland when he didn't play

    This is off topic but it just pops in my head. It is hard to harp on defense when you are not having fun on the offensive side. It is much easier to have the energy to play defense when you get your offense going plus you don't have to worry about rebound turning into transition if you are making your shots.

  • I always got the sense that Thibodeau didn't care for Snell that much and only played him if he was hitting his shots, with more consistent minutes he can be a "lite" 3-D backup wing. He won't be an elite defender or shooter but can give you some depth. The Kirk Hinrich entitled minutes comes into play and we'll see if coach Hoiberg falls for the same trap, playing Hinrich at the shooting guard spot and taking minutes away from McDermott and Snell. I'm afraid he will make that mistake and this is not what this team needs. Hoiberg's offense seems to be predicated on faster pace and 3pt shooting. He'll need quality wings to get this offense going if he wants to be Golden State lite. He has Jimmy Butler and Rose to set the pace, the small forward has to be a 3 pt shooter and a quality scorer as well. Will Snell or McDermott emerge?

  • Just saw this headline on a link off to the side here.

    If true that totally sucks, and another strike against the FO. Personally, I thought that Green would have gone in the first round ahead of the Bulls, even though he seemed undersized at PF and not a SF type, thus a dreaded tweener.

    Can't say that I remember anyone clamoring for him, before or after the draft, except apparently for Adams.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Why can't this FO hit the jackpot with every draft pick? There must be something wrong with them.

    If we play the "let's look at all the players drafted after our guy and compare the best of them to our guy" game, we're pretty much going to lose that game every time. If we want to cherry-pick the few bad drafts GarPax has had, the way, say, Jeff Van Gundy did, they're going to look bad. GarPax have their deficiencies but they are pretty excellent at drafting, digging up a few sub-optimal draft choices is not worth the effort. For all we know, Ron Adams opposed all of their draft picks but nobody is going to report on that and realgm isn't all that credible to begin with.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    If we play the "let's look at all the players drafted after our guy and compare the best of them to our guy" game, we're pretty much going to lose that game every time.


    As will every team, in every professional sport, ever.

    How bad of a pick was James Johnson? Horrible for a year or two, but how many of you would love to have him at SF right now?

    Butler vs Marshon Brooks?

    I would think people have learned by now not to judge players based on a year or two, some guys take 4, 5, 6 years to develop.

    Though it's probably safe to say Teague will never be an NBA player, don't write him off yet. How long did it take his brother to become an All-Star? Have folks forgotten that when Jeff was the same age Marquis is right now, the Hawks had to trade for Kirk freaking Hinrich to start ahead of him because he wasn't very good?

    Patience, folks. Rome wasn't built in a day, neither were most NBA players.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I guess that it is true, here is the quote by Adams from Grantlands Zach Lowe.

    Flash forward 11 months, and it’s incredible how much has changed on the power forward front. Lee doesn’t play, and Green has emerged as a borderline star who received strong consideration for defensive player of the year, most improved player, and even an All-NBA team. Even the loudest Green boosters didn’t expect this. That group includes Adams, who pushed the Bulls to draft Green in 2012 when he worked as Tom Thibodeau’s lead assistant. “As a coaching staff, we were very disappointed we didn’t get him,” Adams says. “He is definitely a Chicago kind of guy. This is no reflection on Kevin Love, but every team wants a Draymond Green. He has internalized the parts of the game that are the winning parts: the hustle, the grit, the defense, making the right play at the right time. I love that guy. I’m glad he’s on our team.”

    Bummer, maybe if they had listened to Adams, not only would we have Green, but Adams might still be with the Bulls. who knows how that would have affected Thibs status.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Speaking of Green, Jae Crowder in Boston is a free agent and kind of a poor man's Green. He should be available for something less than the full MLE. Different kind of player but so should Aminu in Dallas, perhaps a poor man's Luol Deng.

  • I give Snell a D. He was entirely too passive overall, earlier in the season was a total non factor, and then in the playoffs when it counted I forgot he was even on the team. It ticks me off because he has all the tools to be a solid guard in the league. While many credit his three point shot, I actually think he's at his best when he attacks the basket. He's got a pretty quick first step though he rarely uses it. most of the time he just babysits the three point line and then when he has a look he either passes it off or shoots an air ball. The problem with Snell this year is the same as last...his confidence.

    Having said all that he may yet pan out into a decent NBA player. I think he's just a lot more raw than first realized. In a way watching Snell reminds me a lot of Tyrus Thomas in the sense where Thomas had moments that he showed signs of great potential but most of the time looked lost and clueless. Struggled to read plays, and couldn't really find his niche in the game. Obviously Thomas is the bigger bust being that the FO gave away the second overall pic Lamarcus Aldridge for him but Snell shares a lot of similarities.

    The good thing for Snell is he's only been in the league for two years so he still has time to show improvement. I don't think he needs to work on his game at all, rather he should seek help or talk to a shrink to start working towards building his confidence.

  • With a new coach, Tony Snell will make it or break it this year.

    I have often said it is so hard for me to root for a guy with so little enthusiasm/confidence. Our guys had to keep trying to build him up. I like guys with some internal drive too, and he so often looks like a deer in the headlights.

    I hope he is on a new, conditioning and dietary plan to gain muscle and stamina.

    Give him a chance with our new "running" type team and see if he develops. I am just not counting on him..,but willing to give one more chance.

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    He may never develop. The light bulb may never go on. But he has all the physical skills to be a very good player in the NBA! I believe that Thibs was exactly the wrong kind of coach for Tony. Demanding, requiring immediate precission and always ready with the quick hook, Thibs practically stomped out Snell's hot streak. I believe that if Tony's first two years had been with Pops in San Antonio, he would already be a productive sixth man!

  • I think I finally have confidence in him to become a key rotational player next season (better late than never). Thibs really stuffed around with his minutes/opportunities, and his play remained inconsistent, but I believe I saw a player with bounds more confidence and more aggression taking it to the hoop - he finally taking it strong and throwing it down and actually using some of that athleticism and length.

    It's now or never for Tony and I really hope Hoiberg puts him a position to succeed. Good kid and I think can play a good role for us.

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